“Change is inevitable” is a very boring line to start this discussion, but somehow it is the best fit for my upcoming thoughts. The changes witnessed by the Web Design and Social Media industry in the year 2011 were a cue for us to predict what might just happen in the year 2012. The word responsive can become overly predictive in 2012 just like HTML5 was in 2011. Similarly, multiple brands will pick up HTML5 and might just start showing off, unless the showoff becomes a turnoff for visitors. Assuming that Mayans prediction of the earth coming to an end in the year 2012 was a dud, this discussion will focus on the upcoming trends that will become important in the year 2012 and the upcoming years.
Why look for a change in Web Design Industry?
That, my friends, is the first question to pop up when we try to dream of changes in our own design industry. Why do we actually need such changes? Aren’t we doing good, already? Well, we are doing good but we are doing stuff that is boring, predictable, comfortably pleasing, repetitive and all other similar adjectives. Here are a few quick reasons which second my thought of (at least slight) change in the Web Design Industry:
- Web Design Industry is overly trendy. A web designer might try to think out of the box but at the end of the day he/she cannot ignore the trends that are running around in the industry. The result is an uninspired design which isn’t unique and almost always a redesign of what has already been done. Somehow, we have to change this predictable trend that grasps the industry so tightly that it becomes impossible for designers to implement an out-of-box design. The fear of loathing has to be pushed away in order to make way for innovative designs.
- Enough of cool-designs-to-garner-attention kind of stuff. We see multiple talents designing for their friends only, as such minds do not have enough exposure to hold the red hot iron in their hands. They just don’t know that they can sit in between geniuses and make their jaws drop. We need to educate such undeveloped brains about the importance of their vision. We need a planned education system that directs geniuses into the correct directions.
- We have to embrace agile methods instead of sticking with start-with-scratch and I-can-do-it-alone things. I agree that most designers might be loners but that does not mean that we cannot use ways that can save time and improve the design development process. Start prototyping, learn sketching to show quick examples to your clients, and don’t follow the lengthy process when an agile method can do a lot for you.
- Designers must be educated about the horizons of fonts. Most of the designers have started to experiment with fonts but the typeface industry still has a lot of room to expand. Designer fonts give a new meaning to a design and we must understand that.
- Internet Explorer must be ignored! I know this is a dream but I hope that the Mayans prediction applies on Internet Explorer and it never surfaces back on the World Wide Web. Internet Explorer has been the reason why many designers fail to tag their design as platform independent. This is what we call regressive.
Web Design Trends in 2012
It is time to introduce the first fragment of this discussion which will focus on the upcoming trends in the web design industry in the year 2012.
- Responsive Web Design - I had to start the trends list with Responsive Web Design as it was the most talked about thing in the last quarter of 2011. Responsive Web Design will continue to evolve in the year 2012 and might just become what we really want it to become. Website designs in 2012 will become more flexible which will permit websites to display easily on various screens and devices without any issues whatsoever.
- Minimal Designs with focus on UX Design - Minimalism was always here to stay and 2012 will continue to experience minimalism at its best. But, I believe that 2012 will see the enhanced form of Minimal Designs evolve due to the much desired need of User Experience. I want to see Minimal Designs that focus more on User Experience without losing its minimalism factor.
- jQuery - jQuery has evolved a lot from it’s beginning and 2012 will be no different. Designers will be seen overusing jQuery in their designs which will result in smoother sliders. The only problem (which sends chills through my body) will be the “over usage” of jQuery for results that will look repetitive on various web designs. Still, jQuery is something that is here to stay and we cannot stop designers from using it in their projects.
- HTML5 - Isn’t this obvious? HTML5 based designs became so famous in the year 2011 that everyone was boasting about an HTML5 design. It became a fashion-kind-of to have an HTML5 based design. This trend will continue to gain pace with huge organizations taking control of HTML5 and making the switch-over to HTML 5. The results will surely be astonishing and lovable.
- Merging Designs with Social Media - Social Media Industry grew exponentially in the year 2011 after Google entered the game with Google+. With Facebook’s new look getting a mixed response and Twitter’s planned interface changes, the Social Media industry will garner lot of attention and it will be exciting to see how designers merge their designs with various Social Media Platforms so as to decrease the gap between a website and its social media page.
- Touch Screen Compatibility - The debate is on about the future of Touch Screen Technology and designers must understand that adding enhanced features in their design that multiply the touch screen user experience will surely take their design to places. This is one area which hasn’t yet been explored enough but it will be interesting to see how designers take up touch screen technology and what ideas pop up so as to add that extra element to designs that make them touch screen friendly.
- Custom Fonts - As I said earlier, the font industry hasn’t yet experienced its fare share of experiments. Custom fonts have started to evolve lately with designers trying to come up with fonts that are totally unique. This experimentation will continue to touch new heights in the year 2012 and results should knock us over.
Social Media Trends in 2012
Social Media Industry did see plenty of changes in the year 2011 but that wasn’t it! Social Media is all set to experiment more just because the end consumer is slowly becoming comfortable with upcoming changes. One must understand that change in trends is usually overly minimal and often impossible to recognize within the gap of 1 year. But, it is this subtle shift in trends that defines the future of an industry. I can see a lot is in store for the social media industry because even after years of launch the Social Media giant, Twitter, is still struggling to monetize its platform.
Now, let us quickly go through some of the most important trends that will grip the Social Media industry in 2012:
- Monetizing “Checking-In” - Almost everyone has their own check-in system nowadays. Services like foursquare have popped up everywhere and every Social Media platform is trying to integrate a check-in system with their services. The important part is that no one has yet monetized the check-in system. It is important for marketers to understand if the end target is currently in a pizza outlet or on his couch. Such data can help the marketers promote their product to the end user at the best suitable time. I believe this will be a topic of debate in 2012 and must see light at the end of the tunnel.
- Facebook as the center of the Internet Experience - Facebook is, no doubt, the center of the Social Media industry as of now, but soon it will be the center of our Internet Experience. May not be in 2012, but Facebook will surely continue to dive into our nervous system so as to be a part of our day to day lives. It will be interesting to see how successful this trend turns out to be in the year 2012. The day isn’t far away when parents will send birthday wishes to their kids via their kids Facebook wall. Thankfully, I am not on Facebook!
- Bolster Personalization - Facebook has smartly outdone other Social Networking Platforms by personalizing everything on its portal. The Facebook Ads, Fan Pages and Sponsored Stories develop a strong bond between the user and his Facebook profile. Everything he sees on his Facebook profile (which includes the unwanted ads) is what he loves to see. This is what other social media giants will strive to achieve in order to enhance user experience.
- Rise in Road-Side Venture Capitalists - Services like KickStarter have made it quite easy for ideas to receive the necessary funding by a group of small time investors who later on get back something in return. I can see a rise in similar services as the market for such services is still dry. Out of garage entrepreneurs have loads of idea but not the money. On the other hand small time webmasters have the money but not the ideas. Such services will bridge the gap between these two genres and start a totally new industry.
- Socially Smart Idiot Box -Television has become an integral part of our lives. No matter how much we ignore the idiot box, we end up surfing channels to find something interesting. 2011 witnessed a rise in discussions that were about socializing the television experience. I am not sure how exactly will this be done but soon we will see the Social Media Industry taking steps that will bridge the gap between Television and Social Media Platforms.
The year 2011 is now the thing of the past. Just like 2010, 2011 was special by every means and has increased our level of expectations from the year 2012. Time will tell how 2012 will turn out to be but we can be sure that the events ready to roll in 2012 will keep up all tight!
Salman Siddiqui is an alpha geek, design guru and seasoned WordPress critic. Writing, for him, started out of ego but it has become the most luring and enlightening career option of his life. He is walking that extra mile for his freelancing dream.